Arron Banks, the UK Independence Party’s millionaire donor, is threatening to follow in the footsteps of his friend Steven Woolfe and walk away from the pro-Brexit party if huge changes aren’t implemented.
Banks, an anti-EU insurance tycoon who has donated more than £1.25 million to the party since 2014, told the Times that UKIP is descending into “full-blown insanity” as it tries to recover from a turbulent few weeks.
Earlier this month, Woolfe, the strong favourite to replace Diane James, who resigned as leader after just 18 days in charge, was hospitalised after allegedly being punched by fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem.
Woolfe, the party’s Manchester-born migration spokesperson, announced he was quitting on Monday, saying the party was “ungovernable” and “riddled with infighting” between rival camps.
“At the moment it’s full-blown insanity,” Banks told The Times on Tuesday. “With the Labour Party it’s the same thing. These are parties, not businesses. Lunatics can take over the asylum and they are [in charge] for the time being.”
He added: “If it continues as it is, and doesn’t change in the NEC [National Executive Committee] elections, that will probably be the end for me.”
When BI spoke to Banks at UKIP’s annual conference last month, he vowed to continue funding the party and said all the party’s problems had been “put to bed” with the election of James.
However, since then, James has stepped down, the frontrunner to replace her has quit after fighting with a colleague, and none of the people currently in the running stand for the leadership are viable options to fill the power vacuum left when Nigel Farage stepped down in July.
If Banks cuts ties with UKIP it would be another massive blow. He is popular among members and has injected a massive amount of money into the party since becoming an official donor two years ago.
The businessman said the party’s NEC should be totally overhauled via an election and called on the party’s sole MP Douglas Carswell and Welsh assembly leader Neil Hamilton to leave the party. Both Carswell and Hamilton had frosty relations with Farage, who is a close friend of Banks.
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